AWW VOL. I, ISSUE 10
On Retail, Rebellion
and Restive Sock Demons
“Join The Resilience,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said. “You like adventure! Be a literary pirate and sail the seven seas of indie writing with a crew full of like-minded, loveable reprobates!”
Well, here we are, barely two months at sea, and it’s already gone from yo ho ho and a bottle of rum to Round Robins and “Who’s up for suffocating the Cap’n with her own stockings?” Or who’d rather be loyally cast adrift with her and escape the tyranny of that sock monster. Well, I know whose side I’m on, and how very dare you suggest it’s just cos the Quartermaster has the keys to the booze hold!
So here I sit, listening to the rumblings of mutiny and the intermittent growls of an only partially tamed bear someone saw fit to bring on board. Please excuse any typos in this newsletter. I’m sharpening my cutlass one-handed while I write. Never know when I might need to use it these days…
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Have you ever worked in retail?
If so, you don’t need me to tell you it can be a horror story that writes itself.
My eldest daughter, who works part-time in a clothing store, is currently putting up with the kind of boss who makes Gordon Ramsey’s style of management look like a kumbaya circle. In between discovering that Siri’s lost his sense of humour when you ask him how to bury a body, and searching job sites, I’ve been remembering my own experiences behind a cash till. Most of them were several shades less than rosy.
I don’t mean the kind of experiences you might get in a Mom and Pop store, where the customers know you, and actually smile at you; where you can have conversations while you ring up the purchases, and everyone comes out of the experience still feeling like a human being.
And I’m not talking about anyone lucky enough to be working for a certain kind of big chain store that used to be almost common, back in the day. See, Youngling, there was a golden era when companies like The Body Shop made ethics briefly cool, and corporations flirted with the idea of treating their employees like people instead packaging to be thrown away when they’d outlived their purpose.
No, I mean the kind of retail where the shop floor is a polished, shining mirage identical to all the others in that chain, and just like them it hides the grimy, money-grasping truth underneath it. The kind of place where it’s your job to play along with the gleaming fantasy, hoodwinking punters out of their cash, while the place grinds the will to live out of you, hour by basic-wage hour.
If you’ve ever needed to put money in your pocket and pay the rent, chances are you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Truth be told, most retail is kind of like a modern gothic horror. You arrive at the rich and stately pile, with its promise of romance and grandeur, only to scratch the surface and find nasty secrets and abusive power.
Instead of the brooding, aristocratic Count who’s eventually revealed to be a vampire, there’s the moody, bullying manager who turns out to be a corporate blood-sucker. (Spoiler alert: s/he is unlikely to be devastatingly good-looking or charismatic.)
In place of skeletons in the closet, there are zombies in the staff canteen. And the true ghastliness of it all is that it’s happening in broad daylight, on every street in every town. A whole library full of little horror stories, writing themselves on the pages of real lives, every day.
It all flashed back upon me in one great shudder while I was listening to my daughter’s tales of woe, and by coincidence, getting my newest horror short ready for publication. It’s set in the basement of a retail store, you see. I’d remembered it all in the kind of detail that suggests lingering trauma, and my daughter’s experiences spirited me right back there, as if I’d never left.
This was something of a pain in the bum, as it happens, because it meant I’ve had to rejig the whole darned thing.
Why? you ask. Well, because the narrative voice I’d used at first was just dripping with relief that it’s a long time since I’ve had to deal with that sort of scary tale.
Hearing my daughter rant and rage brought it all back so vividly it was clear that some smug, omniscient narrator wasn’t going to cut it. To experience the full horror of working in retail, you have to be in it. Slap bang in it, on the tills, on the shop floor, stacking those shelves, and watching the hands of the clock on the wall tick by slower than the sell-by date on dried pasta.
That’s what I needed, I realised, to make my horrid little story of something nasty in the basement of a retail store believable. The voice of someone who’s been there.
Thus, when I should be pressing “publish,” here I am instead rewriting the voice of the narrator to one who knows what it feels like to be bossed around by a manager several chromosomes short of a personality.
Secretly, I’m glad I realised. It’s going to be much better this way. Much more honest and much more horrific.
So if you have ever worked in retail and felt like it was sucking the very soul out of you, my new horror short is dedicated to you. Read it on your lunch break and remember, the best revenge is to make it out alive.
Newsletter Exclusive Prize Giveaway!
Need a treat? Feel like you’re due some good luck? To prove that some things in life are still free, I’m giving away a copy of The Warehouse, as soon as it hits those electronic shelves!
To be in with a chance to win, you need to subscribe to our Ship’s Log via Belle’s sign-up page and send her an email where you complete the following phrase:
“Shop until you… ?”
One winner will be selected at random and will receive a free e-copy of The Warehouse by email.
Nobody goes down there if they can help it.
The strip lights flicker and the walls are cold and slicked with damp. Stay too long and you’re certain to have an “accident.” One you might not recover from.
So when Adie and his mates decide to slack off down the back of the warehouse one late evening shift, it’s no surprise that bad things start to happen.
What secrets are hidden in the slimy shadows of the warehouse? And will anyone who discovers them survive to tell the tale?
Tiny Terrifying Tale of the Month
Cool, green water, silky on skin. Fingers claw my ankle.
Silly Horror Stories I Want To Write Anyway
The kids know it’s real, even though the adults don’t believe them. They won’t go near it if they can help it; slam the door and run. Sometimes, they leave it offerings to assuage it: plates with choice morsels, glasses of sweet drink. All piled up outside its lair, teetering as if the very vessels themselves shiver in fear.
In the darkness you can hear it clunking and grinding, polishing its teeth.
One day soon it will escape, and even the grown-ups will have to run from… The Dishwasher Monster.
Time for a Tipple
It’s blazing June here under the tropical skies where The Good Ship Resilience is anchored, and it just so happens the stores are full of strawberries.
Of course, strawberries keep about as well as secrets in high school, so this month’s cocktail recipe is an idea for how to use ’em up once you’re tired of pouring cream over the little beauties.
You’re probably more used to seeing Bellinis made with peach. That’s all very well, but peach season’s not for another two months, and I’m thirsty right now…
(with thanks to Claire at the Vancouver Elementary School Track Race Finals.*)
Recipe (serves 2)
- 1 cup of ripe strawberries
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2 fingers of cherry brandy
- 1.5 cups of Prosecco, Cava or other sparkling wine (bonus points if you can find a rosé version)
- A handful of ice-cubes
Reserve two strawberries to garnish, top the rest and whizz them up in a blender.
You have a choice here – either strain this mixture through a sieve so your Bellinis are nice and clear, or leave the pulp if you want to kid yourself you’re making some kind of fibre-full health food.**
Now add the sugar and brandy to your clear or pulpy liquid, and blitz it in the blender again. Add the ice cubes and hit “blend” one last time.
Pour this nectar of the gods into two champagne flutes and top up the other half of each glass with your sparkling wine.
Clink glasses and enjoy the first taste of summer!
(If you’re not drinking, you can still enjoy this lovely summer cooler. Just leave out the brandy and swap in sparkling water or fizzy lemonade for the sparkling wine.)
*You were right, this is exactly what the afternoon was missing for spectators!
**Having tried both, unless you’re super picky about strawberry seeds in your teeth, it’s really not worth straining the strawberry puree! Also it takes either the patience of a saint, or forward planning, neither of which are my strong suits.
Photo Inspiration of the Month
This photo makes me think of so many different stories! Is there someone up there, in that crane? Are they the only witness to something nefarious happening in the car park below? Who is lost on the mountain, fixing their eyes in desperate hope on the crane’s orange-lit silhouette? Are those storm clouds gathering, or the first hush of a peaceful night? Let me know what you’d write: TWEET ME!
Our beleaguered Quartermaster, Leto Armitage, will be responsible for next week’s newsletter, should he manage to survive the sock demon’s attempts to overthrow The Captain and take command of the ship. I’m off to polish my cutlass and hide in the bilge.
SHIP’S LOG, THURSDAY 8 JUNE 2023
A few highlights from our Reader’s Room
– Books by the Resilience Crew and some of our passengers
THE NEXT STEP
A year has passed since Todd defeated supervillain cyborg Doctor Gorgeous and retired from his life as the vigilante LaserBurn. Facing discrimination as the only other high-tech cyborg in the public eye, he’s shut himself off from the world. Todd prefers the company of his inventions and his doting husband Bowen.
While life is good, Bo is ready to take the next step and add to their family. Is Todd ready, too?
This fluffy feel-good novella about adoption, domestic superheroes, and growing beyond one’s comfort zone takes place in an expanded universe but can be read as a standalone story. It features a disabled (and snarky) protagonist, a super smart little kid who loves robots, and a romantic cowboy from ages gone by.
This novella is part of the upcoming United Guardian Sodality series. If you enjoyed reading about Todd, Bowen, Patrick, and friends, stay tuned for more stories featuring them soon!
Leto Armitage & Linn Rhinehart
CATGIRL FROM SATURN
Michelle, a mangaka (comic book artist), knows it’s crazy to fall in love with her own creation, Galatea, a curvy, kick-ass, Catgirl from Saturn. It seems like fate when Kaylee, a flesh-and-blood woman who just happens to be cosplaying Michelle’s character, shows up at a con. Is it a dream come true or a strange romance destined for tragedy? And if it’s the latter… Is it worth it, anyway?
SWEET & SPICY
In Book 2 of the Pet’s Penance novella series, our dynamic power duo is crossing the Atlantic on a cruise ship. Illustrious spicy romance author Maddox Rhinehart and his disabled editor, Linn Lundahl. both have some issues to sort out in the week it takes to get from New York to Southampton. Will pet be able to write the story Master wants from her? And will he be able to see the heart of the problem?
M.W. McLeod & Maria Caiazza
THE VEILED WAR
When Astero enlisted in the army during World War II, he accepted the dangerous consequences. Little did he know he signed himself up to battle in not just one, but two wars. Humans and magical creatures alike join the battle, and he finds himself thrust into this new world when the vicious witch Catarina detains him for her own special brand of questioning.
Magdiana wants to keep her head down, but when a distant family member comes to her for help, she accepts the mission. There is one man who can turn the tides in the war, and they must liberate him at all costs.
The pair find themselves stranded and must make a treacherous journey to civilization, but what awaits them is more fear, death, and duty. It’s always one last mission for the greater good, but when their next job sends them into the clutches of a demon and his summoner, the pair know they are headed to their doom. If they can finish the job, they might help turn the tides of the war in their favor, and if they fail, it could all come tumbling down.
When the true nature of magic and magical creatures is announced to the world, giant Lord Bjorn’s betrothed breaks off their engagement in favor of looking for a more appropriate suitor. In a fit of rage, the giant removes his heart from his body in order to feel no more and become more powerful, like the giants of legend.
Prince Filip Magnusson soon finds himself in a pinch. His six older brothers have gone missing after leaving him behind to attend a ball, and now, he’s in line to inherit the throne. Determined to save himself from taking a leadership role, he uses their family’s connections in an attempt to hunt down his brothers, save a princess, and slay the giant scourge that terrorizes the countryside. In order to win, he’ll need to be a little Heartless.
Heartless is a modernized retelling of The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body with a dark twist.
LIBERTALIA TALES: FIRST LOVE
An Afternoon Delight
Can you meet the love of your life in a bar? When gorgeous Sam walks into Jess’s local bar, it seems like fate. Flirty, fun, and teasing, this sapphic tale of true love will have you gasping in surprise like it’s your first time…
Love Never Dies
They say love never dies, that the dead never really leave us When Maya’s first love is tragically taken, she wants to believe it, but all she can feel is the lack of him. Until love finds her in the least expected way.
Love Never Dies is a bittersweet story of first love beyond the grave.
This Saccharine Sensation
Gianna has dreamed the hubby, house and rugrats dream for 20 years, but what would normie life look like for someone like her? How do you find a man when the only one you talk to is “Joe” in tech support? Can you fall in love with someone you haven’t met? And if you do… What next?
SWAG PICK OF THE DAY
BURIED, FK MARLOWE
BURIED, BOOK COVER COFFEE MUG
This design is available on a number of different products from stickers to hoodies.
Extract From the Ship’s Log
DATE: 1 June, 2023
TO: All Crew and Passengers
SUBJECT: Don’t Mind the Dwarf
I’ve had some inquiries about the strange man wandering around the ship. He is not a man, he is a dwarf.
Please, don’t do what one crew member did and ask him if his mommy is nearby. He’s heading towards his 700th birthday and I’m told hasn’t needed his mommy since he was 125.
The dwarf’s name is Cerran and he and his automaton companion will be doing some field research on the ship in regards to project VORPAL. This is an offshoot of our ongoing effort to keep the ship free of pests, though we are going a bit past rodents and bugs this time.
I will remind Cerran to get permission before entering crew quarters, thank you.
The Resilience hosts a series of independent blogs and websites, including aswewrite.com and holihell.com. But more importantly, she offers a steadily growing number of writers a home and a treasure trove of shared resources, knowledge and experience. Your support keeps her afloat and helps us make more shit up. Thank you and welcome aboard!
Pick up some cool author and book swag in our shop. Do you have any special requests? Let us know and we’ll see what we can do…
It takes a lot of tea and coffee to run a pirate ship. Spot us a cuppa if you can and help us keep the Resilience afloat. We always say thanks…
If you become one of our first patreots, all bets are off. You can check in to our reader’s hotel on discord and we may even write you into one of our books…
We are running low on the smelling salts, so we’ve had to move all nsfw material to As We Write’s naughtier little sister site Holihell. Just click the button below if you want to see more of the spicier stuff some of our Resilience-authors have to offer.
GIMME THE SMUT
ABOUT F.K. MARLOWE
F.K. Marlowe is a Shropshire lass who lived in London and Beijing before settling down with her husband, three daughters and rescue pup in Vancouver. She writes horror stories with a tendency to the paranormal, and Young Adult fiction with fangs and sass.
Marlowe doesn’t worry overly much about the placement of semi-colons and the like, having spent far too long pootling about in academia to take them seriously. (She has an Oxford first in English Lit, plus a Master’s and PhD from Leeds). She has, however, discovered that life is the best education for a writer, and plans to continue her studies there as long as possible.
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BOOKS BY F.K. MARLOWE